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The Reaction Wall

Quick! How many lit up buttons will you hit in 30 seconds? A game with the same thrill as whack a mole is helping your child grow and develop, but how?

When you compare the Reaction Wall to Whack-a-Mole you will notice one very large difference, the Reaction Wall requires you to hit your targets on a vertical wall instead of a tabletop. This is a different motion that requires a lot of motor planning but also has an immediate reward. The instant satisfaction of hitting the lit-up button and watching it move is thrilling, as well as the following race to beat your previous score. Learning a new skill is challenging and without a lot of success, a child may move on feeling like they aren’t ready for that yet. However, this experience provides success whether they hit two buttons in 30 seconds or 42 buttons. It encourages a child to keep trying and keep aiming for the lit-up button as fast as they can.

There are also two boards next to one another which allows for peer-to-peer interaction or play with their adult. SPARK is a valuable place for adults and children to play and learn together and the reaction wall is no different. It is easier for an adult to hit more buttons as they have a larger reach and their brain has had more time to develop, but it is still fun to “race” an adult. As a caregiver, how many foot races have you gone on to see who is faster? Why not race your child here, too, to get them to work at seeing the light, deciding to use the right or left hand, and then reaching out and hitting the target?

If a child wants to learn how this space works, they may watch another child or adult play first. Social learning is one of the best tools your child has to learn more about the environment around them. If you are playing for fun and your child is watching you, they may jump onto the other side to see if they can do just what you are doing. Try making silly movements or saying a funny word when you hit a button and see if they copy you. It can be really enlightening to see how much they are learning by observing.

The reaction wall is a good place for new friendships. Two children can use teamwork to see how many buttons they can press on one side or see who is faster. The opportunity to interact with new children provides more opportunities for language development and conflict resolution. Each child may play or communicate differently and every interaction will be a learning opportunity as your child learns the skills to be a good citizen in society.

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